In the early 2000s, it felt like we were in a hay day for comedy films. We had stuff coming out from huge names like the Wayans Brothers, Will Farrell, Judd Apatow, and Todd Phillips. We saw breakout hits like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Barbershop, and Meet the Parents.
There were instant classics like Anchorman, Knocked Up, and The Hangover as well as gems like Napoleon Dynamite, Idiocracy, and Little Miss Sunshine.
Yeah, OK, it wasn't very diverse, but we had a ton of movies to pick from, and it felt like if you had a funny idea and some connections anything could happen. They were big movies. They took on spaces like NASCAR, news shows, high school, and Las Vegas. Most importantly, these films delivered laughs.
Where Are the Comedy Movies Nowadays?
Adam Devine asked the same question on This Past Weekend with Theo Von, and while he loves comedy on TV and is excelling at comedy features on streaming, he longs for the days when these movies were in theaters.
"My theory is I think, I think like Marvel ruined it,” Devine said. “I feel like superhero movies kind of ruined comedies. Because people go to the theater and you expect to watch something that costs $200 million to make and comedy movies aren’t that.”
While these are bold words, Devine is mostly right.
Studios have prioritized tentpoles films and strangled out mid-budget movies in order to try to make the most money in theatrical and to have movies they assume travel better in international markets compared to dialogue-driven comedies of the 2000s.
The other big worry is audience engagement. It costs a lot of money to go to the movies now. Will people show up for comedies?
Devine expanded on that above notion:
“So you’re like, ‘Well, why would I spend the same amount of money to go watch a little comedy in a theater, if I could spend the same amount of money and go see something that is, is worth $200 million?”
Is the Audience to Blame?
I think that part of audience engagement is overblown. People turn up for movies they want to see. We used to have comedy movie stars that brought people in. Everyone would stack up for these huge releases, and word of mouth would encourage larger second weekends.
Most of the reason we got a drop off in comedies was that studios decided that they were small bets. And stars were directed by their agents to make bigger deals for tentpoles, where the paydays to play superheroes were much higher.
Other people have written this story and made it seem like Devine blamed Marvel. He took to Twitter to make sure everyone knows he enjoys Marvel, but wants Hollywood to diversify their options outside of tentpoles.
Without stars championing projects and without studios natively seeking them out, we have seen comedy films regulated mostly to streaming or to indie film.
This sucks, because I love laughing in a full theater. I love the emotional wave you get to ride watching a comedy in public.And like Adam Devine, I hope it comes back sooner than later.Let me know what you think in the comments.